Join United Rant for the second live blog of Euro 2012 – Republic of Ireland v Croatia in Poznań, Poland.
There’s loads of United interest in this one, with John O’Shea, Darron Gibson, and Paul McShane likely to turn out for Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic side. Meanwhile, Croatia’s midfield is built around Tottenham Hotspur’s Luka Modric, the man Sir Alex Ferguson reportedly wants to bring to Old Trafford this summer.
Republic of Ireland versus Croatia, 10 June 2012, 19.45 (BST), Poznań, Poland.
Ed - Sunday 21:42
Although not for the Irish. Poznan will still rock with Irish supporters tonight, but it’ll be more muted that it could have been. It’s been 10 years in waiting for Ireland and there will be some hugely disappointed players, fans and managers tonight. Simply not good enough in any area against a good Croatia side.
It’s not going to get any easier.. Spain come next will all the possession and tiki-taka football. At least Spain doesn’t have any strikers that can score. Well, unless Vincente del Bosque relents and gives Fernando Llorente a game.
Paul - Sunday 21:41
Thanks for your company
Ireland poor, Ireland fans amazing. Ed will be doing some more liveblogs this week and I’ll be back with him next weekend!
Paul - Sunday 21:38
Things we learned today
Fernando Torres is, as long suspected, effectively the same as no strikers. Italy can, as long suspected, defend really well and score stylish goals on the counter. Croatia have, as long suspected, got Luka Modric in their side and Ireland, as long feared, are not a match for their opponents in this group. Hope they prove me wrong.
Ed - Sunday 21:37
Misses with a free header with moments in the match to go. It had to go in. That kind of day, but it’s those moments that make matches. The difference between the best sides and the mediocre.
Ed - Sunday 21:34
Disappointment for the Irish
Croatia technical and tactically superior. Croatia also seemed to work harder. Well deserved victory all round. Ireland all heart, but couldn’t keep enough of the ball to make it count at all. But after all that the thing that killed Ireland, and will infuriate Trap, is that all three goals were preventable. Ireland’s players are more limited, but the organisation shouldn’t be. Too many players switched off when it counted. Criminal really.
Paul - Sunday 21:32
I’ve really enjoyed the way Croatia have played tonight, all those strings being pulled by Luka, excellent passing, rasping shots from difference and taking full advantage of the license granted to their forward players by poor Irish defending. They have also defended pretty well. Be fascinating to see them against Spain and Italy. If Italy defend anything like they did today it will be an order of magnitude more difficult than this game has been for the Croats.
Ed - Sunday 21:29
Ireland just 74% pass completion, against 80%. Croatia 57% possession and more territory. Croatia 50% more passes in the attacking third. Surprisingly, Croatia almost twice as many crosses and more tackles. Croatia 14 attempts to 9, with more on target.
Any way you look at it, not pretty for the Irish. Of course, the key stat… it’s 3-1 with five minutes to go.
Paul - Sunday 21:29
United’s away kit next season, England’s kit in this tournament and Ireland’s here tonight, a certain retro cool in effect. The badge looks absolutely ace on those Ireland kits – very 1950s. Not just Scott Parker’s hair which harks back to an earlier time in this tournament.
Ed - Sunday 21:25
Not a patronising word in this, but Ireland’s fans are a cut above. By now England fans would be booing the team. By this point against France they probably will be. Ok, so it’s all about expectations. Ireland fans hope, but don’t expect to win. But whatever the result there’s 25,000 Ireland fans supporting their team wholeheartedly until the end. And that’s what football’s all about, isn’t it?
Paul - Sunday 21:22
Given how tight this group could end up, if Croatia can pull off a result against Italy or Spain, then goal difference could become a factor, and I’m sorry to have to say this, but how many teams score against Ireland looks like it has the potential to be important. Of course Ireland could rally in a nothing to lose sort of a way and upset the expected apple cart in one of their two remaining games!
Ed - Sunday 21:22
Flatter than Mr. Flat in Flatsville
All the energy and hope has gone out of the Irish performance now, for understandable reasons. In truth Ireland has been well beaten. Beaten by a superior team, but mostly beaten by themselves. This was the game Ireland had to get something out of. All the talk pre-match was of Ireland winning this game and then moving on to Spain and Italy. Counting the chickens too soon perhaps.
But mostly Ireland will be disappointed with a defensive display that undermined everything else.
Paul - Sunday 21:19
Really needs Ireland to get something soon to come back to life. O’Shea, much as I absolutely love him, is reminding United fans who missed him so much in our injury hit periods of the season just gone that sometimes he just doesn’t play that well.
Ed - Sunday 21:14
Modric 95% pass completion so far
Paul - Sunday 21:12
Don’t blame the ref…
Whilst it was clearly a poor decision it is most certainly not because of the ref that Ireland find themselves behind. Very poor defending for each of Croatia’s three goals.
Paul - Sunday 21:08
Jack Charlton Wouldn’t Like This
That ball’s been on the deck for ages. Sheasy ended the passage of play by hoofing into into the box.
After that a sure pen not given to Ireland. The ref was taking dog’s abuse from the Croatia crowd as Ireland carried on with a Croatian man down, and you would imagine that played into the non-award of the penalty.
Ed - Sunday 21:08
Schildenfeld on Keane – absolutely clear and the referee miss it. Schildenfeld went straight through Keane just inside the box, really no question about it. Tough on Ireland that.
Ed - Sunday 21:07
How far could Croatia go?
Croatia has clearly got talent in midfield and up front, but could Bilic’s team gatecrash the Spain-Italy party and qualify for the next round? Croatia will have to get something out of both games, or win one… and that’s hard to foresee. As neat as Croatia has been the team will be on the back foot against both of Group C’s leading teams. It’ll still be a major surprise if Bilic’s men make it through.
But Croatia is better than some gave the team credit for though…
Ed - Sunday 21:00
Doyle, McGeady off, Walters, Cox on
Hard on Doyle who has been excellent in difficult circumstances. Walters is a decent if limited player. Cox is a decent player too, but surely James McClean from Sunderland has earned his chance. Really excellent young player…
Talking of Cox….
Paul - Sunday 20:56
They think it’s all over
Awful defending all round. Basically every Croatian player involved in the build up had way too much room. Modric hanging around the edge of the area slipped a ball out wide and the amount of room Mandžukić had to head in of the post and Shay Given was ridiculous. Trappatoni will be livid, you’d imagine. A poor defensive performance tonight means that the camber of the hill Ireland have given themselves to climb must surely make it insurmountable. Spain and Italy are both better than Croatia, and Ireland are making Croatia look like Brazil.
Ed - Sunday 20:54
Game, set and match
It’s all over now. The second half begins just has the first half did … and the first half ended. ITV pundits had a debate at half time. The question – what’s worst conceding just before half-time or just after it? Irrelevant if you do both as Mandžukić scores his second and Croatia’s third to surely seal the game.
Ed - Sunday 20:52
It ill becomes a website of United Rant’s standing to mock anyone for their accent. After all English, a language shaped over the past 2,000, years has more than 500,000 words, and it has brought us Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Joyce… and Jamie Carragher. What is he saying? We’ve turned on the subtitles here at Rant Towers to find out. No. The ITV sub-titler has no clue either…
Paul - Sunday 20:45
Something I never thought I’d say
I think ITV might be doing a better job of covering this tournament than the BBC.
Ed - Sunday 20:37
Too sloppy, too deep
Ireland’s players are finding this hard enough without silly defensive mistakes. Croatia superior, but in between two defensive mistakes have helped Croatia. No good playing so deep if you don’t defend well. Only one goal in it so there’s no reason Ireland can’t get back into this, but Trap will have to get his troops to focus more. Up top, it’s very difficult for Keane and Doyle. Getting very little good ball. Doyle in particular has the beating of his man in the air and on the ground. Ireland’s midfielders need to press high enough, win the ball back early, and get it too him.
Paul - Sunday 20:35
Just when I was going to tweet that hearing Mario Mandžukić’s name makes me think of Godzooky (which makes me an idiot, obviously), Nikica Jelavić does what he’s been doing since January and scores. It was so massively coming that it can’t be considered a suprise by anyone, but the Republic look pretty much out of this one to me. Trap needs to hit them with some real clear eyes, full hearts business at half time. They needed to get in all square, but they haven’t, and it just feels like one of those days.
Ed - Sunday 20:31
It was coming…
Jelavić scores and it was definitely coming. Not offside, very poor defending from Ireland. Jelavić gifted a goal by Ireland. In a game that’s already so tough for Ireland that was a horrendous mistake.
Funny thing about Jelavić – depsite the fantastic record with Rangers and Everton, his goal scoring record at international level isn’t very good. That’s four in 21. Yes FOUR in TWENTY ONE.
Ed - Sunday 20:28
Ireland in it, but only just…
Ireland’s problem is that they’re simply not getting enough of the ball, and off it they’re not working hard enough high enough up the pitch. It’s not a criticism of Ireland’s work ethic or heart, it’s where they’re putting in the work that’s the problem. They’ll get deeper and deeper as the game goes on unless Trap can switch it around at half time…
Paul - Sunday 20:27
Ireland playing so deep, hardly seeing the ball, up against a team peppered with technical flair and an eye for goal. Doesn’t sound like something which will end well. Getting to half time without conceding, or indeed having nicked one, will make a big difference.
Ed - Sunday 20:22
It’s tempting to say that fans who question Luka Modrić’s value don’t understand football… well they don’t, do they? He’s absolutely superb on and off the ball. Pass, move, pass, move. He’s not the player who scores goals for club or country. He’s not even the player who assists the goals that are scored. But he is the player who sets the tone for every Croatian attack. The Xavi of Croatia if you will. Lovely player who would be superb at Old Trafford (although would inevitably be criticised for not scoring enough). And that’s why Spurs want £35 million plus for him.
Paul - Sunday 20:21
He’s just pure class, and he’s starting to boss the game. Not a great shot there, but fantastic build up play. As always on seeing him, I have a Pavlovian “Fergie, sign him up” response. He’s so clearly the player we need.
Ed - Sunday 20:18
Ireland way too deep
It’s hard for the Irish to do anything about it, because the Croatians are technically superior in every position, but Dunne has to get his back four higher up the pitch, and the Irish midfield has to press inside the Croatian half. It’s going to be a very long game for Trap’s men otherwise.
Ed - Sunday 20:16
Lightening doesn’t strike twice
Free kick in exactly the same position, and this time Ward runs round to the back post unmarked. Croatia nearly bitten twice, but this time McGeady’s delivery wasn’t quite as good. The difference between winning and losing a game, perhaps. Croatia has been warned.
Paul - Sunday 20:13
Modrić given vastly too much room there by Ireland. They’re really asking for trouble if they keep that up.
Paul - Sunday 20:12
The real problem with this game is that all the players have two sleeves the same length.
Ed - Sunday 20:10
Good stop Given, but Dunne is a problem
Given managed to get down to that snap shot from Perišić. But Richard Dunne is getting pulled all over the place. He’s a limited defender, but staying in the right position is an absolute must from the big Irish defender. Back to basics defending required. More decisive defending required.
Paul - Sunday 20:08
Has a whack at it.
Paul - Sunday 20:06
That’s better! Game on in Poznan after a lovely whipped in cross. Very poor defending from Corluka. Didn’t think it would count because I thought I heard a whistle after the ball was whipped in, but apparently that was just someone Trap has planted in the crowd to put off the Croatian defence.
Ed - Sunday 20:06
It’s in there!
What was I saying about set-pieces? Sean St Ledger with a HUGE goal for Ireland. Great run from the defender to get in round the back but very poor defending from Vedran Corluka, the Tottenham Hotspur defender.
Game is very much now on!
Ed - Sunday 20:02
25,000 Irish fans are going to love this…
… no matter what the score.
Paul - Sunday 20:00
Wooly hat and rained on suit is an amazing look from the classic Croatian crazy man.
Ed - Sunday 19:59
Ok, without resorting to football clichés again, but Ireland has to make better use of set-pieces today, especially if Trap’s men have very little of the ball. Free-kick, 25-yards away from goal and Ireland failed to test the keeper, either with the initial shot or the follow-up. Got to do better!
Paul - Sunday 19:58
As Ed says, it’s going to be a tiring old night for Ireland if they can’t keep the ball – that rain is stamina sapping, but on the other hand, it could all be set up nicely for some heroics. If Croatia score next though, you’d have to think it’s over.
Ed - Sunday 19:56
Where does Ireland go from here?
Eight minutes in and it’s already clear that Croatia is going to monopolise possession. So without the ball, and chasing a goal can Ireland do enough to get back into this game? There’s no doubting Irish spirit – and not in some clichéd way – Russia, Estonia and others found out that Ireland can come back in difficult circumstances. Huge test for Trap’s side now though… need to get into the game, and get some of the ball.
Paul - Sunday 19:52
Ed’s rocking the special characters, I see. Ever the pro.
Paul - Sunday 19:52
How on earth did that go in? Keeping it tight early plan out of the window. Going to assume Sheasy’s lulling them into a false sense of security.
Seeing the replay it looks like Given was half a step out of position. Given that Ireland has opened brightly, crossing in after excellent work from McGeady, that is going to be hard to swallow. Conceding within two minutes of your first tournament championships game for a decade must be a huge psychological blow.
Ed - Sunday 19:51
Mandžukić scores. Given slow to get down and you’ve got to say the Aston Villa goalkeeper probably should have done much better with that. Wind out of the Irish sails inside five minutes. Tought for the Irish now, with a game built mainly on keeping it tight.
Ed - Sunday 19:49
Unlikely – 30 seconds in and Ireland get a cross into the box. Ireland can play some decent stuff – certainly not a route one side at all – but primarily the Men in Green’s tactics will rest on keeping it tight at the back, and quickly turning defence into attack.
Croatia’s technical ability is superior, and that should tell…
Ed - Sunday 19:43
Oh wait, Darron Gibson’s not in the team. It says much that Keith Andrews, who is officially without a club, gets in the team ahead of Gibson. He just doesn’t do enough: with the ball, without it. Even he shooting is wayward.
And that guarantees Gibson will lash in a 35-yarder to win the match!
Ed - Sunday 19:38
Home game in Poznan
Manchester City fans may have nicked their ‘celebration’ from the Polish locals, but tonight the Stadion Miejski will truly be Irish, with around 25,000 attending tonight’s fixture versus Croatia. There’ll be a small pocket from the Balkans, but you know where all the noise will be coming from…
Ed - Sunday 19:34
World superstars, and John O’Shea
The big man arrives… Euro 2012 has truly started!
Ed - Sunday 19:20
Slaven Bilić: “We have been ranked in the top ten teams in the world for the last five years. We have only missed two tournaments since independence – it is a phenomenal achievement for a country our size.
“He is Mr Calcio, Juventus, Inter. He is still the man and is doing very well with the Irish team – I am fascinated and respect these coaches that have huge experience. Their training sessions are perfect. He’s a huge figure.”
Giovanni Trapattoni: “Every goal I face is a challenge. I still have the same determination, the same concentration and the same attention to detail. I’m really grateful to the Irish people because they believe in us – they believe in what we’ve done.
“No matter what your age is, it is important to learn and reach new goals. Bilić has just as hard a task as me.”
Ed - Sunday 19:00
Ireland v Croatia – the Teams
Croatia (4-3-3): Pletikosa; Strinić, Ćorluka, Schildenfeld, Rakitić; Vukojević, Modrić, Srna; Perišić, Jelavić, Mandžukić
Ireland (4-4-1-1): Given; O’Shea, Dunne, St. Ledger, Ward; Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady; Keane; Doyle.
Paul - Sunday 18:59
Paul - Sunday 18:56
Well, that’s going to take some beating!
What a second half of football – magnificent defending on show from both sides, two lovely goals, and some lollerific action from both Torres AND Balloteli. Good work folks!
That they shared a point a piece probably doesn’t do much to dent Italy and Spain’s status as huge favourites to get out of this group. Anything less than three points for either ROI or Croatia is pretty disastrous. Hopefully this means they’ll be going at it with a vengeance. Sheasy tearing up the flanks? Yes please! My aim in this whole tournament is to remain as impartial as possible, but if your team has Sheasy in it and they’re not playing against United, I’ll want them to win.
Oh, and Daron – shoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot!
Ed - Sunday 18:54
Possession’s all well and good, but…
… games are won on lost on who scores the most goals. Spain made more than twice as many passes, more of them were accurate, and Vincente del Bosque’s side hogged possession, but without a conventional forward the Spanish struggled to break Italy down. Those of a crueller persuasion might add little changed when Fernando Torres entered the field.
Meanwhile, the Italians may have been starved of the ball, but they were certainly incisive with it and surely deserved a point from the opening group C clash.
Ed - Sunday 16:35
Spain versus Italy
In the main match of the day World Champions Spain take on Italy at the Arena Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland. Spain has found a novel approach to getting round the team’s striker injury/loss of form crisis – by not picking one! Cesc Fabregas will play as a very false nine.
Meanwhile, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has picked Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli in attack, and midfielder Daniele de Rossi in a three-man defence. Nothing could go wrong. Could it?
Spain (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Alonso, Busquets; Silva, Xavi, Iniesta; Fabregas.
Italy (3-5-2): Buffon; Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini; Maggio, Motta, Giaccherini, Pirlo, Marchisio; Cassano, Balotelli.
Ed - Sunday 15:09
More than 25,000 Irish are expected in Poznań for tonight’s game with Croatia, a fixture that is surely a must-win for Giovanni Trapattoni’s men if Ireland is to progress – whatever the result between Spain and Italy in the 5pm fixture. Ireland qualified through the play-offs for this tournament – a first since the chaotic 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan when Roy Keane walked out on the party, and told Mick McCarthey just which anatomically impossible feat he should perform with the squad place. This time round Trapattoni has built an obdurate Ireland side that is unlikely to win many style points, but is certainly not going to be a pushover for either the Spanish or Italians.
Croatia, also qualified via the play-offs beating Turkey 3-0 on aggregate over two legs after finishing second behind Greece in qualification. Goalscoring has been Croatia’s major concern, with midfielder Niko Krancjar top goalscorer in qualification. Former Arsenal man Eduardo will be supported by the prolific Nikica Jelavić during the tournament, but can the Everton man transfer club form to the international stage for the first time with Ivica Olić injured?
Neither side has reported any injuries ahead of the fixture, with Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given set to play despite suffering a knee injury in recent weeks. Kevin Doyle will partner captain Robbie Keane in attack. Meanwhile, Croatia’s Vedran Corluka is fit despite missing training with a hamstring problem in recent days.
Join us for commentary, analysis and chat from around 7pm, with pre-match thoughts throughout the afternoon.
Also worth reading:
- Berbatov meets Rooney in Euro draw
- Team-by-team Euro guide: Group C
- United Rant Live! Czech Rep. v Poland and Greece v Russia
- Euro Cast – bork! bork! bork!
- United Rant Live! Portugal v Germany